14 people, mostly strangers to one another, were sitting at a nice Italian restaurant in Milwaukee. My father, Ken, and I were among their number.
All of the men are in the truss or lumber business, as is Ken, and were being treated to a dinner by a lumber broker from Canada. One would expect the conversation to be filled with talk of wood mold, the influence of the recent hurricanes on lumber prices, pine vs. spruce, and other such riveting conversation...
Instead, the conversation, at the painfully slow restaurant, covered such don't-even-go-there topics like abortion, euthanasia, and the war in Iraq. On Dad's left side sat an ultra conservative church deacon, who when asked what he does when he's not designing trusses answered, "I pray." and on his right a liberal Canadian fed up with United States politcs.
I watched my faher squirm and deftly avoid being sucked in to the conversation. I sat across the table and often had trouble suppressing laughter. There were several attempts made to end the conversation by outsiders, putting forth off topic questions like, "So, what's the weather like in Canada? I hear it gets pretty cold up there. " None were successful. With each passing minute the meal became more uncomfotable. The ultimate moment of uncomfortability came when the church deacon, while talking against euthanasia, began talking about his brother who he watched suffer and die from a brain tumor.
How do people not know to avoid certain topics when in the company of strangers. I am young and stupid, but even I know to keep my mouth shut.